By John Lauritsen

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The life expectancy for horses is between 20 and 25 years. But a horse near Litchfield just passed away at the ripe, old age of 35.

John Lauritsen visited with the Pinto Arabian named Rambo, earlier this month.

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In this week’s Finding Minnesota he shows us one possible secret to Rambo’s Fountain of Youth, that led to a long and memorable life.

“Not only are we mother and daughter and business partners, but we are also the best of friends, so it’s great,” Jaime Liestman said.

That’s why it doesn’t feel like Jaime and her mother Jean are running a business at Reflection Farm. Instead, it’s more like they’re taking care of their extended family. One made up of about 40 horses.

“You have some that are very brave and some that are very timid,” said Jean. “The Arabians are beautiful and intelligent.”

Many of them are named after a popular movie that came out the year they were born. Names like Pitch Perfect, Black Swan, Red Dawn, and (last but not least) Rambo.

When we visited the 35-year-old Pinto Arabian in early December, he had already exceeded his life expectancy by 10 years.

“If you were going to do the human to horse ration of 3.5 years, he would be 122 and a half years if he was a human,” Jaime said.

Jaime is only a couple years older than Rambo. They grew up together, winning award after award. It was during one of those competitions 30 years ago that Rambo may have discovered his fountain of youth.

“We were having chicken dinner and drinking Mountain Dew at the time. Even though he had water present, he was curious about what we were doing. I offered him some Mountain Dew and he’s been hooked ever since,” Jaime said.

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For a while Rambo would drink any kind of pop. But in his advanced age he developed an unbridled enthusiasm for cold Mountain Dew, out of the can. And he wouldn’t touch it if it was flat.

“He’ll turn his nose up and walk away if it’s something else,” Jaime said.

As some people are wine connoisseurs, tis horse is a soda connoisseur. The tongue never stops. The mouth is always moving during these moments of ice cold bliss. Rambo could slam a can with ease, a skill that was completely lost on his grandson in the next stable over.

When word got out, people came from near and far to give Rambo his sugary treat. More than once Jean and Jaime asked veterinarians about the horse’s addiction and they got the same response every time.

“They say since he’s healthy, just keep doing what you’re doing,” Jaime said.

That was the plan until the very end. Because at this farm, life tastes a little sweeter.

“He runs the show in his old age and that’s all right,” said Jaime.

“He looks forward to it. Everybody needs something to look forward to,” said Jean.

In the latter days, Jean and Jaime only gave Rambo about one can a week. In 35 years, he has never had a cavity.

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Rambo passed away on Dec. 23 after suffering a stroke. Jean and Jaime plan to have a celebration of life for him next summer. And they’re going to dedicate one of their riding trails after him by calling it “Rambo Ridge.”

John Lauritsen